Oct 12: The Delhi Wine Club pop-up dinner (#296) with Sula wines to officially mark the announcement of the 3rd edition of Indian Wine Day at the Lalit on November 16, was truly a slap on the face of Indian wine snobs who don’t believe Indian wines have a place on their table, writes Subhash Arora who opines that the quality of Indian wines has improved tremendously with modern techniques and the realisation by the producers that quality is a must if they want to survive in the market
Photos By:: Adil Arora
Indian Wine Day was conceived by Subhash Arora, President of the Indian Wine Academy and the Lalit Group of Hotels in 2017 to inculcate feeling of pride amongst Indians for good quality domestic wines. The first two editions were organised successfully in several properties of Lalit Hotels in India and London with Indian wines. This year, the organisers decided to have a couple of pop-ups to promote the event. The wine dinner with Sula wines and a specially curated dinner at Baluchi Restaurant on October 12, perfect matched with wines from Sula and enjoyed not only by the members of the Delhi Wine Club but residents of the hotel- a group of 60 from Australia, who decided to join us after looking at the Menu.
What the Menu did not mention, was the wine with snacks that we start an evening with, so the members can mingle with each other before the sit-down starts. Of course, with the hotel residents this was not a problem and they took their seats at the tables set for them at 7:30 pm. Pheni paratha and Gilafi Kulcha (some call it Indian pizza) are always delightful carbohydrate that match with several wines and it was no exception with Sula Sauvignon Blanc 2018 which was an excellent quaff with both when the snacks were served piping hot. Sauvignon is what made Sula stand firmly on its feet during the first year of its launch in 2000 and has since been the ‘comfort’ drink for thousands of wine lovers. After a small dip in its quality after a few initial years, it has been excellent for a number of years- the consistency being its landmark. Very fresh, fruity with flavours of ripe fruit, this clean and crisp wine can be enjoyed with starters, vegetarian meals and even fish etc and of course, it was a perfect match with the gilafii kulcha.
Sit-down dinner started with fish chaat that matched the Sula Chardonnay Reserve Dindori perfectly; the touch of oak gave it some complexity. The creamy wine had a juicy end that makes you want to pour the next glass rather urgently. My most favourite Source Grenache Rose was up next, served with chicken tikka with besan Roti-again a perfect match thanks to very slight tannins in the wine. Again, the freshness and fruity notes went heavenly with the dish.
Main course had pieces of lamb resting on mutton keema and a couple of small onion paranthas stuck on the side- a great presentation by the Chef and delicious too. The lamb was a bit dry but the keema acted like the lubricant, the paratha tasted a bit over-greasy in the mouth though not in looks. The red wine- Sula Rasa Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 was a heavenly match; fine, well-rounded and balanced wine with complex notes and red fruit flavours with smooth in texture and silky tannins. At Rs. 2200 MRP it is perhaps the most expensive wine from Sula but worth every rupee if you love fully bodied powerful yet elegant Cabernet.
Indians don’t particularly like a sweet wine with the dessert. But French do and so our corporate sommelier for Lalit, Charles Donnadieu who had curated the dinner with a little bit of help from me, insists on a bubbly with desserts. Used to desserts which are not as sweet in France, the Il Tropicale was an excellent brut- the slight pink colour being from the red grapes like Syrah, zinfandel and Pinot Noir inside the bottle- Sula claims more than 50% red grapes and thus making it Blanc de Noir. Bubbly and complex, it was a delicious bubbly that could stand on its legs. The dessert of Rose ice cream had interesting comments. Every member on the table asked for another scoop while the meethi dalchini Khurchan Crumble was not as much of a hit partially because it was a bit dry on the palate. Perhaps doubling the ice-cream and halving the Crumble size might have been more practical. Il Tropicale Brut did not make any attempt to match the sweetness in the wine which helped to down the Crumble.
Wines were all delicious and in a blind tasting unlikely to be picked out as Indian wines except perhaps Tropicale and that too due to its rather light pink colour. Wine is all about having fun around and the Australian guests seem to validate our concept from the decibels one could garner outside the restaurant-they seemed to love the wines and of course food. Indian wine with food in Baluchi, a restaurant with excellent Indian demeanour really enchanted them throughout the evening. Members of the Club, of course cherished the evening, especially the wines,food and wine pairing. Heena, the educator from Sula was at hand to answer any questions on wines of the evening.
Indian Wine Day 2019
The Indian Wine Day at the Lalit Delhi and all properties of Lalit in India will have a special but same Menu with high quality wines from Sula, Grover, Fratelli and York in Delhi (each venue will have different wines according to the availability). One hopes the dinner tonight would take the fangs out of the wine snobs, if they attended the dinner. For details, visit www.indianwineday.com or write to firstname.lastname@example.org to get information of the next pop up dinner with another wine producer and another restaurant like OKO.
Heena, the wine educator of Sula presenting the wine at the first Pop-up for Indian Wine Day
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